My Hair Still Smells of Honey (Written February 17)

My Hair Still Smells of Honey

 

My hair still smells of honey,

Though the jars have been capped

And put away, and the pot

 

Has been cleaned and dried.

I know how you hate to let things rot

Or get thrown away, so to soften

 

The honey, and make it run again,

What you do is, as often

As needed, set the jar,

 

Glass or plastic, on a rack

In a pot of boiling water, far

From the flame, and let the steam

 

Do the work. But what was different

This time was the way I was able to lean

Over you and kiss you as you stirred.

Her Father’s Daughter (Written February 16)

Her Father’s Daughter

 

When she was around fourteen

She was one of the best gymnasts

In the country and had dreams

 

Of being in the Olympics. She was good

At everything but excelled at the high beam.

But when she placed fifth in the Nationals,

 

She suddenly announced she was quitting

The team. It was not rational,

But nothing would change her mind.

 

She was adamant. Such a waste

Of talent, of a kind

Rarely found, I thought. She spent

 

Long hours in her room, brooding.

I wished she’d come out and vent

Her anger, which was mostly directed

 

At me.  For her birthday I booked

A sailing trip along the coast

Where we as a family used to stay,

 

Including an hour of deep-sea fishing.

But dropping anchor proved a mistake,

As the rocking of the boat made her

 

Violently ill. But now I think that this too

Was part of her life-long desire

To distance herself, to cut

 

Her ties, to guard her privacy,

To be anything but

Her father’s daughter.

Balanced and Harmonious (Written February 15)

Balanced and Harmonious

 

We stay that way a long time,

Saying nothing, balanced and harmonious.

On the radio Glenn Gould

 

Plays Bach, humming along,

Lost in his own world. Fooled

By the weather, dozens of starlings

 

Think spring has already arrived,

But just listen to them, the darlings,

As they chatter. The traffic on Champlain

 

Is a low whoosh, a counterpoint

To Glenn’s vocals. A light rain

Pitter-patters on the roof above us,

 

And when we begin to move again,

Ever so slowly, God love us,

The universe moves with us.

Whatever It Takes (Written February 14)

Whatever It Takes

 

They want problems to debate,

Games to play,

Questions to answer,

 

Puzzles to solve,

Notices to serve,

Challenges to meet,

 

Distances to measure

In terms of feet,

Discrepencies to resolve,

 

Mysteries to clear up,

Sins to absolve,

Standards to raise,

 

Barriers to lower,

Performances to praise,

Anything that makes

 

The time pass,

Whatever it takes

To get through the day.

The Rose Room (Written February 13)

The Rose Room

 

Because I lie there and my wife,

In the rose-colored room,

And the snow in the window

 

Falls softly, silently,

In the glow

Of the street lamp,

 

Because I lie there and my wife,

In the early morning damp,

And the door, rife

 

With lament, stands open,

Because I lie there and my wife,

In the rose-colored room,

 

And the poor woman’s moan,

From some pocket of gloom,

Cuts close to the bone,

 

Because I lie there and my wife,

On the rose-colored stone,

Death happens.

The Unforgiving Elements (Written February 12)

The Unforgiving Elements

 

Lump of rags on the street,

A shirt, a knit hat, a sock,

Frozen stiff in mid-winter.

 

Sombody’s clothes once,

Who stood under the glitter

Of the melting ice,

 

Who listened to the birds

As they called back and forth

In their black caps,

 

Who worried where they go

To find some protection,

Some sleep these nights

 

So dark and bitter cold,

Who fought her own fights

With the unforgiving elements.

Simply To Be Held (Written February 11)

Simply To Be Held

 

Her breath on his face

Stirred his deepest feelings,

Waking in him a hunger

 

He had not felt

For many years. When younger,

He’d relished his role as outsider,

 

But no longer. He was cast out

From the circle of friends, a rider

Consigned to the outer fringe,

 

A hanger-on, a has-been.

She did not cringe

But put her arm

 

Around him and held him

And he was no different,

She said, from anyone else

 

She loved and respected.

He knew she was someone

To be reckoned with, smart,

 

Capable, but her beauty

Had always intimidated him, until

The day she sat down beside him.

Still In Bed (Written February 10)

Still In Bed

 

His mother was not ill, he was told,

But then why was she still in bed?

She’s very tired, his father said,

 

Now don’t make such a big fuss.

Something happened to his head

When he tried to open the door.

 

Give her some peace and quiet,

The doctor said, and no more

Visitors for the time being.

 

He was eight years old,

Almost nine, used to seeing

His mother happy and engaged,

 

Though lately she’d stopped eating

And often became enraged

And twisted her words in a way

 

He had never heard before, so that

He did not know what to say,

While inside, he felt dead.

Night Watch (Written February 9)

Night Watch

 

By evening some of our own wood

Will be dry enough to burn,

And we can build our own fire,

 

And stay as long as we want.

It’s true, someone called me a liar,

But that’s no reason to pack up and go home.

 

I was there when it happened,

So if anyone should know, I should know.

I stand by every word I said, no matter

 

What anyone else thinks. I saw the way

They went after those people, to scatter

Them to the four winds. We’ll sing

 

And dance, and keep our spirits up,

And when the sun rises again, we’ll bring

A whole new level of pressure to bear.

The Indifference of Onlookers (Written February 8)

The Indifference of Onlookers

 

When suddenly I turn around and a crowd

Rushes toward me, along the narrow street,

And several loud noises, like fire crackers,

 

Sound a few blocks away, toward the waterfront.

Mostly young men, but women too, backers

Of the recently ousted prime minister,

 

Who have refused to accept the new government,

Which they see as illegitimate, a sinister

Plot hatched from abroad, with the sole aim

 

Of securing access to the country’s vast

Reserves of fresh water, along with the claim

That everyone, rich and poor, will stand to gain

 

In the end. Lies, and more lies, as these protesters

Know all too well. But what do they get for their pains,

But tear gas, rubber bullets, and the indifference of  onlookers?